Hand shelling seed corn. | Blogs

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Hand shelling seed corn.

As spring approaches here we've got lots of little project to do around our little hobby farm!  One of the things we did this weekend was hand shell our seed stock for the corn crop.  This type of corn is called "Painted Mountain" and we grew a small patch of it last year (1000 sq. feet) as a feed crop for our laying hens.  The crop was successful and our ladies loved to eat the kernels right off the cob!  The important thing to note here is that this corn is open pollinated.  What that means is that you can actually save some of the corn as seed and replant it the following year.  In fact that is the way our ancestors did it 100 years ago!  They acted as their own "geneticists" selecting ears from the healthiest looking stalks at harvest time and setting them aside to dry.  What I also should have done is a sprouting test on each ear BEFORE I shelled them but I forgot!  The way that works is you take out one kernel from the cob and put it in a little damp soil inside in the warmth.  If it sprouts then it's likely the whole ear will do well as seed.  If it doesn't sprout then it's possible the rest of the kernels in the ear may not be as successful.  So you throw out that whole ear instead.  Or feed it to your chickens!  The other thing that is really cool about saving seed is that your crops will adapt to the soil conditions right on your land.  The plant will turn on certain genes and turn off others and program the seeds so that the next crop will do even better!  That's called epigenetics.  How cool is that?  So we ended up with about two pounds of seed and we will plant another 1000 square feet of corn this season adjacent to where last year's field was.

As you can see I try to involve my children in as many farming activities as possible.  It's a great way to both teach, spend time together and have fun all at the same time!  Enjoy the video!

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